How to Sell a Car that Needs Work in 4 Easy Steps

How to Sell a Car that Needs Work in 4 Easy Steps

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Your current car may have served you well for years, but as the miles add up, it's only understandable that at some point, things start to go wrong. Maybe you've had to replace minor items like window switches or door handles. Or perhaps major components like the engine and transmission are in constant need of attention, and the repair costs have set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

After weighing the options of paying for expensive fixes or getting behind the wheel of another car altogether, you've decided to sell your vehicle. 

But who buys cars that need repair? When you need to sell a vehicle with mechanical issues, what steps should you take?

Let's look at how to sell a car that needs work.

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How to sell or trade in a car

Disposing of your vehicle may sound harsh, but when the time comes, typically, you have two options: selling it privately or trading it in. 

Each choice has its benefits and drawbacks, and the one you choose depends on which you value more: convenience or top dollar. 

When you sell a vehicle to a private party, you have a lot of work to do beforehand. First, you need to clean up the car inside and out, take many pictures from different angles, and post advertisements. Then, you have to answer phone calls from potential buyers and answer any questions they may have. And it could take weeks or even months before someone wants to purchase your vehicle. 

To close out the buying process, you have to meet someone in a public place, agree on a price, and take care of any necessary paperwork, like the bill of sale and transferring the title. All in all, selling a car privately is time-consuming but can net you the best price for your vehicle.

On the other hand, trading in a used vehicle is a streamlined, simple process. Rather than spending your essential time during the selling process, trading in can last as little as a few hours, allowing you to drive off in a new-to-you car the same day.

When you trade in a vehicle, all you have to do is visit the reseller of your choice, decide whether or not to accept their offer, then put the trade-in value toward your next one. 

And trading in offers a significant advantage when you pay sales tax. In many states, you only pay sales tax on the amount left when you subtract your trade-in from the purchase price. This has the potential to save you thousands of dollars and helps keep money in your bank account for other essential expenses.

Shopping for a new-to-you car can be fun, but selling your old one is a hassle. It takes up your important time, and how can you know you're receiving the best price? When selling your car to Shift, there's no need to worry about any of that. All you'll have to do is enter the make, model, year, and mileage on Shift's easy-to-use website, and you'll instantly receive a purchase offer that's valid for seven days. You can get a fair offer, better than at the dealership, driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data. And with Shift, there is no need to spend the extra time waxing and washing the car. A little dirt won’t affect the quote, and we fully detail the cars ourselves anyway before listing them for sale.

How to sell a car that needs work

1. Be honest

While you may receive less money for a vehicle with mechanical problems, building trust with potential buyers helps smooth out the selling process.

The first step in building trust is being forthright about the condition of your car. Explaining what works, what doesn't work, and what's needed to fix it allows car buyers to know you're honest, and that can increase their comfort level. 

If you'd like to go above and beyond when aiming to establish a cordial relationship with prospective buyers, obtaining an estimate for needed repairs can reassure them even further that your vehicle isn't a scam. Maybe your insurance company didn't fully cover mechanical fixes after an accident, but you have an itemized price list from the service facility to share. 

Since buying a broken car with mechanical issues can be a risky choice, making a buyer feel comfortable could mean the difference between them writing a check or not.

Though buying a used car instead of a new one can save you thousands of dollars, where can you go for a vehicle that stands the test of time? Shift's certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every car and have complete vehicle history reports, so you know your used car feels as good as new. And Shift offers best-in-industry service contracts, ensuring your vehicle runs strong mile after mile. With a Shift Vehicle Protection plan, not only are essential components covered, you receive roadside assistance if you run into trouble. Wherever you may be in the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada, help is just a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

2. Consider trading it in

If your vehicle is in such poor condition that no one wants to buy it, another option is trading it in. 

But just like selling a vehicle in need of repairs to a private party, when trading in, it's best to be upfront about any issues. 

A reseller may have a mechanic inspect your car to know its exact condition and whether or not they can recondition it for sale at a later time.

Though you may not receive your asking price when trading in a car in need of repairs, you're still divested of it and get something in return. 

3. Sell to hobbyists and mechanics

If you have a desirable classic car that needs numerous fixes, seeking out hobbyists and mechanics is another viable choice. Unique makes, and models can bring a reasonable price even if they need serious TLC. 

Advertising your vehicle with particular groups dedicated to specific cars can help you locate those in search of a project car. Even if your vehicle needs significant repairs, it could be just what a Shadetree enthusiast is looking for. 

4. Sell to a scrapyard

If you simply can't find a buyer due to your vehicle's condition, a junkyard may be your last resort. 

Checking with several salvage yards can help you secure the most money in return, and you'll need to have the title on hand to complete the transaction. If your damaged car is in drivable condition, you can drop it off at the salvage yard. Or, if you can't start your damaged vehicle, they'll pick it up.

Remember to remove any personal items from your car before turning it over to a salvage yard because there won't be a future owner or reseller to return anything left inside.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team